Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce)

Definition – What does Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce) mean?

Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is the marketing, buying and selling of merchandise or services over the Internet. It encompasses the entire scope of online product and service sales from start to finish. E-commerce tools include computer platforms, applications, solutions, servers and various software formats manufactured by e-commerce service providers and purchased by merchants to increase online sales.

E-commerce facilitates the growth of online business. It is categorized as follows:

  • Online marketing
  • Online advertising
  • Online sales
  • Product delivery
  • Product service
  • Online billing
  • Online payments

We explain Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce)

The e-commerce concept relates to business or financial transactions that facilitate electronic payments of items purchased from online stores and service vendors. E-commerce covers a broad range of business activities, from digital content used for online consumption to conventional orders of online merchandise. Online banking is another form of e-commerce. E-commerce transactions are conducted between businesses, businesses and consumers, businesses and government, businesses and employees and consumers and businesses.

Online shopping is an e-commerce format, in which real-time sales transactions occur as a consumer purchases an item or service from an online store. This may be explained as an interactive collaboration between a consumer and merchant. In online shopping, there is no intermediary – just the interaction between the online buyer and store/service provider. Here, electronic financial transactions are conducted securely. E-commerce also describes the exchange of data between the financing, billing and payment aspects of electronic business transactions.

Content management system (CMS)

A content management system (CMS) is a software application or set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content. CMSes are typically used for enterprise content management (ECM) and web content management (WCM). An ECM facilitates collaboration in the workplace by integrating document management, digital asset management and records retention functionalities, and providing end users with role-based access to the organization’s digital assets. A WCM facilitates collaborative authoring for websites. ECM software often includes a WCM publishing functionality, but ECM webpages typically remain behind the organization’s firewall.  

Both enterprise content management and web content management systems have two components: a content management application (CMA) and a content delivery application (CDA). The CMA is a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows the user to control the creation, modification and removal of content from a website without needing to know anything about HTML.  The CDA component provides the back-end services that support management and delivery of the content once it has been created in the CMA.

Features of CMSes

Features can vary amongst the various CMS offerings, but the core functions are often considered to be indexing, search and retrieval, format management, revision control and publishing.

·         Intuitive indexing, search and retrieval features index all data for easy access through search functions and allow users to search by attributes such as publication dates, keywords or author.

·         Format management facilitates turn scanned paper documents and legacy electronic documents into HTML or PDF documents.

·         Revision features allow content to be updated and edited after initial publication. Revision control also tracks any changes made to files by individuals.

·         Publishing functionality allows individuals to use a template or a set of templates approved by the organization, as well as wizards and other tools to create or modify content.

A CMS may also provide tools for one-to-one marketing. One-to-one marketing is the ability of a website to tailor its content and advertising to a user’s specific characteristics using information provided by the user or gathered by the site — for instance, a particular user’s page sequence pattern. For example, if the user visited a search engine and searched for digital camera, the advertising banners would feature businesses that sell digital cameras instead of businesses that sell garden products.

Content management systems
defined.

Other popular features of CMSes include:

·         SEO-friendly URLs

·         Integrated and online help, including discussion boards

·         Group-based permission systems

·         Full template support and customizable templates

·         Easy wizard-based install and versioning procedures

·         Admin panel with multiple language support

·         Content hierarchy with unlimited depth and size

·         Minimal server requirements

·         Integrated file managers

·         Integrated audit logs

Choosing a CMS

There is almost no limit to the factors that must be considered before an organization decides to invest in a CMS. There are a few basic functionalities to always look for, such as an easy-to-use editor interface and intelligent search capabilities. However, for some organizations, the software they use depends on certain requirements.

For example, consider the organization’s size and geographic dispersion. The CMS administrator must know how many people will be utilizing the application, whether the CMS will require multilanguage support and what size support team will be needed to maintain operations. It’s also important to consider the level of control both administrators and end users will have when using the CMS. The diversity of the electronic data forms used within an organization must also be considered. All types of digital content should be indexed easily.

CMS software vendors

There is a huge number of both free and subscription-based CMS offerings available for personal and enterprise use. The following are just a few examples of CMS platform providers:

·         SharePoint — A collection of cloud- and web-based technologies that makes it easy to store, share and manage digital information within an organization.

·         Documentum — Provides tools for storing and retrieving content rapidly, and is known for its fine-grained access control.

·         M-Files — Uses a meta-tag-based approach to managing electronic documents.

·         Joomla — A free and open source WCMS built on an MVC framework. Joomla is written in PHP and offers features such as caching, RSS feeds, blogs, search and support for language internationalization.

·         WordPress — Another free and open source WCMS based on PHP and MySQL. WordPress can be utilized as part of an internet hosting service (WordPress.com), or it can be deployed on a local computer to act as its own web server (WordPress.org). It is immensely popular amongst the blogging community.

·         DNN – Provides marketers with the content management tools they need to easily access all of their digital assets regardless of where they are stored, publish content to any online channel, personalize it to each visitor and measure its effectiveness.

·         Oracle WebCenter — Oracle’s portfolio of user engagement applications built on their own development framework and offered at a per-CPU licensing cost. Three main products make up the suite: Oracle WebCenter Content, Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle WebCenter Portal. One of Oracle’s major features is that content can be centrally managed in one location and shared across multiple applications.

·         Pulse CMS — A proprietary software option designed for small websites that enables a web developer to add content to an existing site and manage it easily and quickly. It does not require a database. It uses Apache with PHP 5 and offers user support for paying customers.

·         TERMINALFOUR — This company’s flagship product, Site Manager, is a proprietary software-based CMS that offers extensive multi-platform support. While the on-premises license can be costly, past updates have been reviewed favorably and it supports a broad user community platform for the exchange of ideas and peer-to-peer help.

·         OpenText — OpenText’s ECM Suite and Web Experience Management are aimed at the enterprise and are available both on premises and through the cloud. OpenText specializes in the management of large volumes of content, compliance with regulatory requirements, and mobile and online content management for enterprise use.

·         Backdrop CMS — A free and open source CMS that is part of the Drupal project and focused on providing affordable CMS for small and medium-sized organizations. On its own, Backdrop offers just the most basic web content management features, but it can be extended with the help of the various modules available.

Blog Definition

A frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links.

Information

Blogs, or weblogs, started out as a mix of what was happening in a person’s life and what was happening on the Web, a kind of hybrid diary/news site.

The word “blog” is a shortened version of web logs or weblogs. Besides being shorter and catchier, “blog” seems less likely to cause confusion, as “web log” can also mean a server’s log files.

People maintained blogs before the term was coined, but the trend gained momentum with the rise of automated published systems, most notably Blogger at blogger.com, which lowered the technical barrier to entry for formatting and organizing posts. Now, self-hosted platforms such as WordPress offer new levels of functionality, with a large ecosystem of talented designers and developers serving the varied needs of millions of users.

Despite its grassroots beginnings, blogging has also become a popular platform for business, from companies trying to humanize their brand to solopreneurs seeking to make a full-time income online. But with increased opportunity comes increased competition, and it takes more to stand out now than in the early days of blogging. Still, there are so many more people online today, so the potential rewards are higher for bloggers who break through.

Definition – What does Web Development mean?

Web development broadly refers to the tasks associated with developing websites for hosting via intranet or internet. The web development process includes web design, web content development, client-side/server-side scripting and network security configuration, among other tasks.

Web development is also known as website development.

We explain Web Development

Web development is the coding or programming that enables website functionality, per the owner’s requirements. It mainly deals with the non-design aspect of building websites, which includes coding and writing markup.

Web development ranges from creating plain text pages to complex web-based applications, social network applications and electronic business applications.

The web development hierarchy is as follows:

  • Client-side coding
  • Server-side coding
  • Database technology

Advertising is attempting to influence the buying behavior of your customers or clients by providing a persuasive selling message about your products and/or services.

In business the goal of advertising is to attract new customers by defining the target market and reaching out to them with an effective ad campaign.

Target Market

Establishing the target market is the critical first step in any advertising campaign – you need to know who your intended audience is before you can reach them. If your target audience is senior citizens, for example, an advertising medium such as Facebook is a poor choice. Similarly, Millennials are much less likely to read newspapers or use the Yellow Pages.

Defining the target market involves building a demographic profile of the prospective customer by taking into account criteria such as age, gender, marital status, lifestyles, shopping habits, etc.

It is also important to check out the level of competition for your product or service with your target audience as you may need to compete on price and/or service.

Common Advertising Methods

There are many different types of advertising that are typically used by small businesses:

  • Online marketing 
  • Local website advertising – Many municipalities and Chamber of Commerce chapters have websites that provide listings of local businesses.
  • Business web pages – Creating and maintaining a professional web site with clearly outlined descriptions of business offerings, optimized for search traffic.
  • Email – Requires a customer email list and adherence to anti-spam regulations. Email newsletters can be useful for keeping in touch with existing customers and passing on information about new products or services.
  • Facebook – Taking advantage of social media by creating a business Facebook page and using it to regularly promote products and services. A common advertising venue for businesses such as restaurants who use Facebook fan pages to promote new menu items or specials and to receive feedback from customers. There are also a number of available 3 for doing business on Facebook.
  • Twitter – Assuming the business has Twitter followers tweets can be used to send out short promotional messages.
  • Newspaper advertising – While on the decline (U.S. newspaper ad revenue dropped by over 50% between 2006 and 2015) newspaper ads can still be an effective way to reach customers. Many municipalities have special interest newspapers which can used by businesses for local advertising.
  • Yellow Pages – Usage of the printed pages is also in decline. However, there is an online version.
  • Direct mail – Can be very useful. Can be costly if sent via post, but even without a mailing list brochures, flyers, etc. can still be delivered directly to residences and/or businesses in targeted geographic areas. Unfortunately statistics show that nearly half of direct mail ads are unread by recipients and tossed away as “junk mail”.
  • Cable TV and radio – Cable companies often have local info channels that offer affordable advertising for small businesses.
  • Cold calling – By phone or in person can still be surprisingly effective. As an example, while on a call a service company can take the opportunity to visit neighboring residences/businesses and mention their services (or drop off flyers or brochures).  Phone solicitation is now illegal in Canada to numbers registered in the National Do Not Call List unless the business has an existing relationship to the customer.
  • Vehicle (wrap) advertising – Turning a vehicle into a “mobile billboard” is an excellent way to maximize business exposure. Vehicle ads are eye catching and in a major metro area can be seen over a million times a month.

Online Advertising is Taking Over

Online advertising continues to grow rapidly, with over $229 billion invested globally in online advertising in 2017. According to statista, this is projected to rise to 335 billion by 2020.

With over 2 billion users of social networks, spending on social media ads alone has grown to over $35 billion in 2017 from virtually nothing in 2010 (spending doubled from 2014 to 2016). Social media is particularly popular with advertisers – with easy access to user demographic data (such as age, interests, spending habits, etc.) companies can finely tailor ads to the audience.

 

Definition – What does Customer Support mean?

Customer support is generally defined as service efforts from technology vendors and providers that focus on helping customers to use products and services correctly, efficiently and effectively. Many see this specific type of support as part of a larger category of customer service, but while customer support is often provided in response to customer demand, it is also part of intelligent planning for a wide variety of IT companies.

We explain Customer Support

One of the core ideas around customer support in today’s IT world is that more complex or sophisticated products and services are often significantly more valuable when delivered with customer support. Because the best firms save clients time and money by acting as temporary consultants, helping to implement systems, and otherwise assisting customers in the field, many customers are starting to value customer support when shopping for IT products and services. Some examples where customer support is gaining ground include the general market for cloud-based software services to support industry-specific goals, as well as technology products like operating systems, applications and networking resources that may be more valuable to customers when they come with additional support.

Definition – What does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) mean?

Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to methods used to increase traffic to a website by increasing its search engine page rank.

SEO often involves improving the quality of the content, ensuring that it is rich in relevant keywords and organizing it by using subheads, bullet points, and bold and italic characters. SEO also ensures that the site’s HTML is optimized such that a search engine can determine what is on the page and display it as a search result in relevant searches. These standards involve the use of metadata, including the title tag and meta description. Cross linking within the website is also important.

We explain Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engines attempt to rank results for a given search based on their relevance to the topic, and the quality and reliability a site is judged to have. Google, the world’s most popular search engine, uses an ever-evolving algorithm that aims to evaluate sites in the way that a human reader would. This means that a key part of SEO involves ensuring that the website is a unique and relevant resource for readers.

The following methods are common ways to improve a website’s SEO. These methods are called white hat SEO because they aim to improve search rank by improving the user’s experience on the website.

  • Increasing keyword depth
  • Increasing interlinking
  • Improving the organization of content on the page

Black hat SEO involves techniques such as paying to post links to a website on link farms, stuffing the metadata with nonrelated keywords, and using text that is invisible to readers to attract search engines. These and many other black hat SEO tactics may boost traffic, but search engines frown on the use of such measures. Search engines may punish sites that employ these methods by reducing their page rank or delisting them from search results.

Definition – What does Social Media mean?

Social media is a catch-all term for a variety of internet applications that allow users to create content and interact with each other. This interaction can take many forms, but some common types include:

  • Sharing links to interesting content produced by third parties
  • Public updates to a profile, including information on current activities and even location data
  • Sharing photos, videos and posts
  • Commenting on the photos, posts, updates, videos and links shared by others

We explain Social Media

Social media is perceived as a Web 2.0 development, which is to say that it is founded on the concept of a user-driven, interactive web. Blogs, message boards and chat rooms provide an experience that could be described as social media, but the term is more strongly identified with sites like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and so on. Like many buzzwords, the meaning of social media is a moving target that gets shifted around according to what the person using it wants it to mean.